Well, as I indicated in my last post, I was thinking of moving this blog to Wordpress. And, I have officially done so. You can find me (and hopefully more posts) at melseyknits (dot) wordpress (dot) com..replacing the "dots" with an actual . Hope to see you there!
I know...so much for daily, weekly, or whatever, right? Well, things have been incredibly busy lately...so I haven't had much time. Anyway...
I started a blog for my local spinning guild. I'm hosting the blog on WordPress, and I have to say that I like the platform a lot more than the Blogger platform! Hmm...I will likely keep the blog here for now, but I am considering moving it to WordPress. It's just easier to edit things, post stuff, etc.
Ok, back to cleaning up the house in preparation for my mom's visit next weekend. Cleaning up the house = completely reorganizing my stash. This involves making a huge mess just to get things cleaned up!
That's right...one of the afghans that I needed to finish during football season is done, and it isn't even that far into football season! My very first rag quilt, completed today! And, even already through 2 cycles in the wash to get the ends to be all fringy! :) I'm so incredibly proud of this because it is definitely the biggest sewing project I've ever done. It was a bit tricky getting the rows together and stitching around the edge, but I did it! Anyway, here it is!
And, of course, I finished some more handspun too. This is from a Cosymakes subtle stripes kit. It was a really fun spin! You get a 2 oz. braid of a semi-solid colorway (in this case purple) and 4 small 1/2 oz. balls of 4 other semi-solid colorways...in this case, blue, orange, green, white(sorta). You spin up one bobbin with the 2 oz. semi-solid, and the other bobbin with the 4 other 1/2 oz. bumps. Ply, and bada boom bada bing...subtle striping in any project you make from it! I chose to split the orange into 2 quarter ounce pieces, and then spun them orange-green-white-blue-orange. So, in whatever I make from this, there will be two short orange stripes and 3 larger stripes of the other 3 colors.
So, at least a year and a half ago (maybe almost two years now), I bought fabric to make a rag quilt. Mind you, I haven't sewn much at all...linings for a couple of purses, but that's been about the extent of it. Anything beyond straight seams scares the crap out of me. The rag quilt pattern at the local sewing shop consists of all straight seams (bonus!). AND...they will die cut the squares and fringe the edges for you...HUGE bonus! If you don't know what a rag quilt is, check out a picture of one here. Basically, you sew together squares with a good-sized seam allowance and then fringe the seams. You wash the quilt, and the fringe kind of gathers and bunches between the squares. I'm too lazy to cut all the squares and too new to get them right, so paying the $12 to have the sewing store cut them and make the fringe ahead of time was totally worth it!
At any rate, I got some sort of stroke of motivation last week to finally assemble my rag quilt. I've been sewing a bit each day, and I'm actually almost done! I just have 7 rows to stitch together, and then it makes its trip to the washer. The suggested fabric for said quilt is flannel...and when they cut it, they just leave the wrong sides together, so it ends up being double sided automatically with no work. Anyway, because pics are fun...here are a couple of pics of the quilt in progress. I'll take more when it's through the washer....
Stack of rows that have already been sewn...waiting to be sewn together
A few rows sewn together!
Outside of that, I attempted to do more on the "Football Afghan" and ended up having to rip out my work because I made a pentagon rather than a hexagon (doh!). I will get back to that today...hubby has football to watch :) The goal is to have the rag quilt from above AND the knitted afghan done by the end of football season. I think I'm going to make it!
And, finally, I did get some spinning done this week as well...my first Wensleydale wool! If you don't know anything about Wensleydale, they have really long locks that are very lustrous. It's not what I would consider a soft wool such as merino, but it is soft in it's own right, has beautiful luster and halo, and is very strong. The best part is that it takes dye incredibly well. This one happened to be dyed by Juliespins in the Dark Petunia colorway. It ended up being a fingering weight yarn, about 560 yds. Spinning it was interesting...at first I wasn't sure about it, but it definitely grew on me, and I liked it. I still had some issues with how much twist to put into it. There was a fine line between too much twist and not enough to hold together. That did create some challenges when winding the yarn off the bobbin onto my skein winder. I spit-spliced some of it together, but it was already 10:30 p.m. when I was winding, and the last break I had was towards the end. So, I did end up sacrificing about 20-30 yds just because I couldn't bear to try and get it to work again. No matter...the yarn ended up beautiful, and I now have a better idea of what to do with Wensleydale! No concrete plans for this yet, but perhaps a shawl??
Close-up of the yarn
Yarn plus a hint of my rag quilt in the background (the underside of it anyway)
As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm participating in a "spin from the bottom" spin-along (SAL) on Raverly. I now have 3 more handspun skeins to share!
First up, is ~330 yds (4.8 oz) of South African Fine wool, dyed by Pigeonroof Studios in the "Carnivale colorway. This is a worsted weight 2-ply and is soft and squishy. SAF was a pleasure to spin as well!
Next, is ~110 yds (2 oz.) of bulky weight woolen-spun "Flying Monkey Batt" from The Wicked Stitch. My friend and fellow spinner, Erin gave me this batt. It has wool, alpaca, silk, soy silk, angelina, and bamboo all blended in it. This was the perfect chance to practice my woolen spinning technique. The resulting yarn is super light and fluffy, and it became amazingly more consistent upon plying (all things typical of woolen spun yarns).
And, finally, I'm proud to present ~340 yds (4 oz) worsted weight organic merino, dyed by me (Doodlebug Dyeworks) at Yarn School this spring in colorway "Laughter." (I know there is nothing in the etsy shop, and I hope to remedy that soon!). This organic merino is soooo soft! Like a kitten's belly! Such fun to spin something I dyed myself :)
On top of that, I started my rag quilt today. I have 3 of 11 rows sewn already. I am going to have to consult some friends at work regarding seaming the rows together. I tried, and it came out a bit wonky. So, I ripped the seam out and will have to try again after a few more instructions.
And, last but not least, I'm so excited to report that I put on a pair of jeans today that fit perfectly! One month ago, I couldn't even really button these jeans (or if I did, I couldn't breathe). I haven't lost a lot poundage-wise, but those inches must be going away for stuff to start to fit differently. Hurrah!
Somehow, lately, I've felt the need to nest. All I want to do is make my own stuff from scratch and have all handmade whatevers lying about my house. I do this a lot with my spinning/knitting stuff, of course.
The latest incarnation of this is that I'm making an afghan from handspun yarn. I spun the yarn earlier this year...2 lbs of handdyed BFL from Southern Cross Fibre and 1.2 lbs natural oatmal BFL from Spunky Eclectic. The pattern is from Berroco and is called "Komb". It's actually a rather easy pattern and is super clever in that you pick up stitches from your last hexagon to create the next one. Thank goodness because seaming together 60 hexagons isn't my idea of a good time! Anyway, DH and I are calling this afghan the "Football Afghan." The goal is to finish the afghan by the time college football season is over. I started it the first day of the season. I don't really care about football that much, but DH really loves watching the college games. So, to occupy myself while still being able to sit with him, I choose to spin or knit. This year, I'll be working on my Komb during the football games and hopefully finish it! I'm already 1/10 of the way done! Hurrah!! Here is the pic of my handspun yarns I'll be using:
Other than that, I've decided that I also want to finally get around to sewing up my rag quilt. I bought the fabric ages ago (sometime last year). Perhaps, I'll get both the afghan and the rag quilt (also pretty much afghan sized) before football is over. That would probably be pushing it, but what the heck...I'll give it a whirl! :) I seriously think I need to get better at sewing because I think it could be something I would really enjoy. I have visions of making my own skirts out of fun prints and even bought a book recently that tells me how to make clothes that fit my body...big hurrah there too!
Also, after reading several blogs and seeing some amazing pics on flickr, I think I really want to learn how to do some canning. DH bought me a fabulous cookbook on canning/preserving/recipes to use your canned stuff in for my birthday this year. Now all I need is the equipment, some jars, and some veggies to get me going! Hope to get that started soon too.
This all begs the question...when the heck do I have time to do all this? No idea, but lately, I'm feeling so much better that somehow, I want to do everything! So, watch out world...I'm out to conquer you! hehe...just kidding! ;)
That's right...this post you are about to read should have been yesterday's blog post, but I didn't have a moment to post yesterday, so you get it today.
As some of you probably know, I have a Never Not Knitting Page-A-Day Calendar by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (a.k.a. The Yarn Harlot). The Yarn Harlot writes humor books about knitting and for knitters as well as a very clever little calendar that gives you funny quips, quotes about knitting, quotes that should be about knitting, and other little tips. I LOVE this calendar! If you are a knitter, you NEED it! Anyway...
Yesterday's "Wednesday Purls of Wisdom" was the fact that September 15th (yesterday) was Julia Child's birthday, arguably one of the most inspirational chefs in America. That calendar page had two things I love in it...food and knitting. I LOVE to cook and try new recipes, and I'm a big fan of Julia Child. I'm embarrassed to admit that I don't own her cookbook, nor have I tried to make any of her recipes at home. However, occasionally, on the weekends, I do catch a re-run of her show or a show that she did with Jacques Pepin on PBS. All I have to say is that the woman makes even the most challenging recipes seem possible for anyone to do. She didn't even care if she messed up while cooking on her show, and quite frankly, she just plain cracks me up!! :) I could probably watch her all day and be perfectly entertained and totally inspired. Have you seen the relatively recent movie, Julie and Julia? I have, and I loved that as well. It's kind of what got me on the whole Julia Child kick...more just got me interested in stopping channel surfing and watching when she's playing on PBS. What a remarkable woman she was!
On top of all of that, Julia Child's mannerisms and personality remind me so much of my grandmother in so many ways. Yes, the very same grandmother who called me "Doodlebug." I remember being in my early teens and just laughing at my grandmother because she and her mannerisms were so darn cute! Julia Child has that same effect on me. My mother sometimes would tell me I shouldn't laugh at my grandmother, but my grandmother always said, "Laughter is the sign of pure and true love!" :) She was so wise in so many ways.
So, after gushing about Julia Child being in my knitting calendar (perfect combo if you ask me!), I think I'm going to reiterate to my husband that the following is on my Christmas list this year as it was last year (in no particular order):
I am a knitter, a crocheter, a spinner, and a beginning weaver. I am an engineer. I drive a VW Beetle Convertible. I married a wonderful man named William who spoils me rotten and does little dances to make me laugh. My life is happy and full!
So why Doodlebug? It's what my grandmother always called me. It was so endearing, and she was such an amazing person. It's kind of my homage to her.